Climate: LNG in B.C. vs Alberta tarsands

Discussion in 'Conservation, Fishery Politics and Management.' started by Foxsea, Jan 15, 2014.

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  1. Foxsea

    Foxsea Active Member

  2. Dennis.t

    Dennis.t Active Member

    Fear mongering at its finest...
     
  3. Foxsea

    Foxsea Active Member

    No fear: The key is to analyze information provided by others and to evaluate its legitimacy. This process allows one to take information, prioritize for themselves the issues of greatest concern, and help create solutions. There is abundant evidence supporting global concerns around the effects of both climate change and ocean acidification. Most thinking people do not suggest an all-or-nothing response to these concerns. There is plenty of reason for moderation, however.

    Government and industry have created a sense of urgency in the exploiting of our resources. Harper has pulled out all the regulatory stops. That may be economically expedient but is not consistent with democratic processes. What's the big hurry to export our unprocessed resources rather than to use them to build a sustainable economy here?
     
  4. GLG

    GLG Well-Known Member

    Gee I thought this deal was dead.... guess things have change since this story.

    March 21, 2013
    OTTAWA - Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has turned down the B.C. government’s request for a tax break to encourage development of the liquefied natural gas industry.
    B.C. supported the industry’s request that Ottawa treat LNG plants the same as manufacturing plants, which would save the sector up to $2 billion in taxes.

    But the federal government didn’t buy the B.C.-backed industry’s argument.

    LNG plants are involved in transportation and are not manufacturers, according to one finance department official. And B.C.’s senior federal cabinet representative said such a break was not affordable.

    “We think the LNG sector will do incredibly well in British Columbia,” Heritage Minister James Moore told The Sun. “A tax break would be great, but frankly it’s not something we can afford right now.

    The Canadian Taxpayers Federation said Flaherty is imposing a double standard.

    “Manufacturing and processing is situated predominantly in Ontario, they get the tax break. The pipeline industry is situated predominantly in B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan, and they don’t get a tax break.”

    The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) had calculated the change would have let the LNG industry write off 90 per cent of their investments against taxes in seven years, rather than the current 27 years.

    The U.S. and Australia already provide such tax relief to LNG plants.
    CAPP president David Collyer said he was disappointed, noting LNG projects will create additional jobs and pay taxes.

    “It would have been helpful in encouraging those (B.C.) projects getting over the goal-line in terms of investment decisions,” he said.

    B.C. Finance Minister Michael de Jong said he plans to speak with Flaherty about the economic opportunities for Canada in Asia and South Asia, including the LNG sector.
    “We’ve got to develop infrastructure with that in mind. … Policies that recognize the opportunities that exist around liquefied natural gas and other opportunities in Asia – if we’re smart as a country, we’ll promote that and develop policies that promote that. ”

    Asked if the decision will reduce B.C.’s projections for LNG projects, de Jong said that interest remains strong and the investment real.

    “And as we develop the infrastructure here in British Columbia to allow LNG to begin flowing to those lucrative offshore markets, you can be sure that we will be aggressively pursuing policies with the federal government that enhance that prospect.”
    The provincial NDP said Premier Christy Clark’s government might have had better luck pushing for the tax break if she had a more productive working relationship with Ottawa.
    “She’s not been a very effective voice in terms of dealing with the federal government,” said NDP finance critic Bruce Ralston, adding he believes Clark’s dealings with Ottawa have been “erratic”.

    “I don’t think there’s been a consistent plan and, I don’t know, maybe even respect that’s not driven by the variations in her political agenda,” he said. “I think it could have been done better.”

    As for the effect of the decision, Ralston said it’s too early to tell how companies will respond.

    “Everything would be factored in. That would be measured against market conditions and global demand. On the balance it’s on the negative side if they don’t get that kind of tax treatment but there are other things that would mean it would go forward,” he said.

    “It’s really a financial decision they will be making,” he added. “We welcome their investment.”

    So an industry, that is the richest since the invention of money, needs tax payer money to move forward.
     
  5. GLG

    GLG Well-Known Member

    [h=1]Lobbying: Oil, gas companies are the top B.C. lobbyists[/h] [h=5]Chad Skelton, Vancouver Sun, April 18, 2013[/h] Four of the five most active companies soliciting provincial politicians are in the energy sector

    “The real way an industry moves politicians is by moving blocks of voters to align with their interests."
    Francesco Trebbi, Assoc. Professor, Economics, UBC
    Four of the five companies engaged in the most lobbying in B.C. are in the oil and gas sector, according to an analysis of lobbyist registry data by The Vancouver Sun.
    At a time when pipelines, liquid natural gas terminals and hydraulic fracturing are key election issues, The Sun’s analysis reveals the province’s biggest energy companies are also its most active in lobbying government officials and politicians.
    Spectra Energy, which operates a network of natural gas pipelines in the province, is the most active lobbyist in the province, according to the data. Natural gas producer Encana, gas supplier FortisBC and pipeline operator Kinder Morgan also made the top five.
    The only non-energy company in the top five is Siemens Canada, whose lobbying primarily focuses on marketing products like MRI machines to health authorities and hospitals.
    Lobbyists in B.C. are required to register with the Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists whenever they have lobbied, or intend to lobby, a politician or government official. That registry is searchable online in various ways, such as by lobbyist name, organization or the person being lobbied. However, there’s no simple way to see which organizations are doing the most lobbying in B.C. or which politicians are being lobbied the most.
    To help answer those questions, The Sun asked Registrar Elizabeth Denham for a copy of the raw data behind the registry, which she provided earlier this month.
    A detailed analysis of that data reveals that, among lobbyists active in B.C. on April 1, Spectra does more lobbying than any other company or organization within the province.
    Gary Weilinger, Spectra’s vice-president of external relations, said he wasn’t surprised, noting his company makes a point of keeping in touch with MLAs from across the province. “Our (pipeline) system runs from north of 60 all the way down to the border,” he said. “We cover a tremendous amount of territory, so there’s a lot of opportunity for contact.”
    Weilinger said Spectra is the single largest taxpayer in the province, at $145 million last year, which means even small changes in government policy can have a big effect. “When someone says let’s tweak the tax regime, that has a huge impact on us and we want to be involved,” he said.
    As part of the registration process, lobbyists must indicate what the “intended outcome” of their meetings with government officials are.
    Spectra’s registration indicates a range of topics, including harmonization of greenhouse gas reporting, development of carbon capture projects and the impact of the carbon tax on the industry.
    Encana, the third most active lobbyist in the province, lists LNG terminals, the carbon tax and fracking regulations among its key concerns.
    “Lobbying is important to this company, this industry and to our operating communities,” Encana spokesman Doug McIntyre wrote in an email. “We maintain open lines of dialogue with provincial policy-makers on fiscal and environmental policy matters that promote responsible development and the economic competitiveness of [our] industry.”
    FortisBC, the fourth most active lobbyist, has focused its lobbying efforts on issues such as securing thermal energy contracts with schools and hospitals and promoting natural gas as a fuel for commercial vehicles.
    Last year, the B.C. government made a regulatory change that allows companies like Fortis to offer financial incentives to companies that switch their vehicle fleets to natural gas.
    Kinder Morgan’s lobbying efforts have been focused primarily on gaining approval for the proposed expansion of its Trans Mountain oil pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby.
    Similarly, Enbridge — the sixth most active lobbyist — has focused on its Northern Gateway pipeline proposal.
    The Sun ranked companies based on the number of “contacts” they declared in the lobbyist registry. A contact occurs whenever a company records its intent to lobby a specific politician or agency. If a company has multiple lobbyists, the same politician may be listed several times — and each time is considered a separate contact. As well, if a lobbyist plans to lobby the same person on more than one subject, that shows up in the registry as multiple contacts.
    Of the 10 organizations with the most contacts, most are large, well-known companies like railway giant Canadian Pacific and forestry company Domtar.
    The one exception: Kingswood Crescent Developments.
    Kingswood’s lobbyist John Moonen said he has met with several MLAs over the past few years in hopes of securing provincial funding for a destination rock-climbing centre in Squamish. Kingswood wanted the centre built to make one of its residential developments more attractive. Moonen said the effort was unsuccessful.
    The Sun’s analysis reveals surprisingly little overlap between the companies doing the most lobbying in B.C. and those that have given the most money to the province’s political parties.
    Indeed, of the top 20 organizations doing the most lobbying in B.C., only one is among the top 20 donors to the B.C. Liberals: Encana, which has given the party nearly $800,000 since 2005. None of the top lobbyists are among the top 20 donors to the NDP.
    Many of the most active lobbying organizations have donated some money to the B.C. Liberals over the years, but not large amounts. Spectra and Fortis, for example, have each given the Liberals about $60,000 since 2005.
    Francesco Trebbi, an associate professor of economics at the University of B.C., said observers sometimes give too much weight to the role of money in politics and not enough to the role of lobbyists, who often try to convince politicians that voters are on their side.
    “A special interest group or corporation is going to give money to a politician. But the real way an industry moves politicians is by moving blocks of voters to align with their interests,” Trebbi said. “By looking at money by itself, you’re missing a lot of the picture of how political influence works.”
    cskelton@vancouversun.com
    © Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun
    Source
     
  6. Derby

    Derby Well-Known Member

    Climate is changing & quickly..hmmm the driest 3 months in over 100 years.. :(
     
  7. Englishman

    Englishman Well-Known Member

    Head in the sand comment at its finest. IPCC and the entire scientific community are all wrong and you are right? Yeah....RIGHT!
     
  8. Dennis.t

    Dennis.t Active Member

    I don't buy into all the propaganda...bla bla bla...Lets all quit our jobs, get stoned and listen to Neil Young records all day.
     
    One Fish and chromatose007 like this.
  9. Foxsea

    Foxsea Active Member

    Ideally, a healthy forest will absorb more carbon in the soil and trees than it releases, for example through burning, decomposition and logging. This is sometimes called a carbon sink.

    Due to a number of factors — including pine beetle infestation, slash fires, wood waste and clear cutting — B.C.’s forests have not done this since 2003, and are emitting carbon dioxide at alarming rates, the group said.

    According to the province’s own data, net carbon dioxide emissions from forestland in 2011 were 34.9 million tonnes, equivalent to more than half of B.C.’s total official emissions for that year. However, only carbon emissions from deforestation and afforestation (new or replanted forests) are included in the province’s official total. As a result, forestland emissions from other sources are “not part of any policy discussions,” Wieting said.

    “There’s a lack of policy, planning and awareness all around. Not to mention the lag time for this data and need for more research.”
    - See more at: http://www.timescolonist.com/news/l...ronmental-group-1.792564#sthash.cM1AyFfn.dpuf
     
  10. GLG

    GLG Well-Known Member

    That's it.. that's all you got?
    Well I hear Idaho is the place you should to go.
    See ya
     
  11. ziggy

    ziggy Well-Known Member

    Had a guy tell me once burning debris should be banned because it released carbon. He suggested loading it up and taking it to the Municipal yard. I pointed out to him that debris released the same amount of carbon whether burned or left to rot. I also found his solution of loading the debris into an internal combustion powered vehicle, driving it to the municipal yard where it could chipped up by an internal combustion engine to speed up the decomposition process seemed silly to me. To him though it was all about the smoke he could see, not the big picture.
     
  12. Dennis.t

    Dennis.t Active Member

    Don't have time to sit in front of a computer and research and post essays all day long. What,r u writing a novel? Get a life. Go fishing.
     
    chromatose007 likes this.
  13. GLG

    GLG Well-Known Member

    Well there is your problem.
    You only have time to be spoon feed the company line.
    Letting others think for you?
     
  14. Dennis.t

    Dennis.t Active Member

    They feed my family with big fat pay cheques. Get off the key board and go cash your welfare cheque.
     
    chromatose007 likes this.
  15. walleyes

    walleyes Well-Known Member

    Lol,, now that right there is a post with logic...
     
  16. GLG

    GLG Well-Known Member


    Nice...
    Neil got you down and you two come out swinging....
    That's all you got?
    Go ahead.... Tell everyone here what you think....
     
  17. soxy

    soxy Member

    http://www.calgaryherald.com/entert...s+comfort+over+convictions/9406082/story.html

    Corbella: Neil Young chooses his own comfort over his convictions


    While Neil Young spoke to a Calgary news conference at the Jack Singer Concert Hall prior to his Sunday night show, five rock star-style motorhomes were left running outside, spewing fumes into the Calgary air, even though they were mostly unoccupied.

    Inside the concert hall, the 68-year-old rock ‘n’ roll legend was talking about the “elephant in the room,” which he later explained was man-made global warming. The only elephant I could see was his enormous carbon footprint and his even bigger hypocrisy between his walk and his talk.

    Oh, his talk is righteous, all right. His walk, however, remains an abomination.

    Calgary was the last stop on Young’s four-city Honor the Treaties tour, which is designed to raise awareness and money for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, which is suing the federal government and Shell Canada in an effort to stop Shell’s Jackpine Mine expansion proposal in northern Alberta.

    The first question Young was asked was, does he ever fly on private jets?

    “Yes, I do fly on private jets,” said the 68-year-old rock ‘n’ roll hall of famer. “Sometimes I have to brush shoulders with oil executives,” he said, his face screwing up in distaste. The horror! Poor old Neil. If that’s supposed to absolve him of some of his environmental guilt, he needs to recognize that oil executives don’t tend to lecture others on how to live absolving them of the sin of hypocrisy, at least.

    “Sometimes to play my shows I have to use them (private jets) to get from one place to another to do my job and be in good enough shape to do my job when I get there,” explained Young.

    So, what’s the main thing wrong with that explanation? If you said Young’s use of the words “I have to,” you’d be right. Neil Young does NOT “have to” fly on a private jet. He chooses to.

    In other words, for Neil Young and other hawkers of hypocrisy like him, he chooses his own comfort over his convictions. Actually, scrap that. If he actually truly believed that human created CO2 causes catastrophic global warming, he wouldn’t even so much as look at a private jet let alone climb aboard one.

    Flying by private jet is the most carbon intensive way to move humans next to space travel.

    According to a 2008 report entitled High Flyers: How Private Jet Travel is Straining the System, Warming the Planet, and Costing You Money,” private jet travel is at least five times more carbon intensive than commercial air travel.

    For example, the report states that four passengers flying in a private Cessna Citation X from Los Angeles to New York would each be responsible for more than five times as much CO2 emitted by a commercial air passenger making the same trip.

    But that’s a very forgiving calculation when you consider about 40 per cent of private jet flights are empty as pilots often return home rather that waiting for the return trip.

    What’s more, private jet travelers pay lower taxes and fees than ordinary commercial travelers.

    The irony wasn’t lost on me that the person who chirped up to come to Young’s defence on his high-flying lifestyle was David Suzuki, the CBC television star who is fond of flying hither and yon and is severely over housed — as he owns several large homes and often insists on his own limo when he goes on CBC shoots rather than travel with the rest of the film crew. Two CBC camera men, who have asked to remain anonymous, have told me so.


    Outside, Young’s diesel buses spewed away, keeping the interiors toasty warm, with a big-screen television displaying a football game to no one at all.

    How do I know that the buses were running while Young was inside the Jack Singer concert hall? Because I spoke to a security guard tasked with keeping fans away from the five buses parked along 9th Avenue across from the Epcor Centre of the Performing Arts and also in the parking lot and in the loading dock.

    When asked if the buses had all been kept running for the past hour, he said they had been running for longer than that.

    I knocked on the doors of all of the buses, rented or leased from Florida Coach Luxury Design and Leasing, and only one was opened by a young man who introduced himself as a cook. The chef explained that the motorhomes, must be kept running to run the equipment aboard.

    “But some of the buses don’t appear to have anyone on board,” I said.

    “We just always keep them running whether they’re occupied or not, but we use bio-diesel which is trucked in from the U.S., so it’s OK.”

    Get it? A little bio diesel here a little solar power there and the gigantic greenhouse gas footprint of the likes of Neil Young and David Suzuki should be overlooked by us peons who have much smaller carbon footprints.

    Never mind that biodiesel is causing great hardship for the world’s poorest citizens since staple food crops like corn are used to power vehicles rather than grow their food, causing their food prices to spike.

    There is no doubt that Neil Young is a very talented musician with a heart of gold. Too bad his facts are made of mush and his lifestyle and rock-star livelihood is the very thing that makes Saudi Arabia’s bloody oil gush and pressure for Alberta’s oilsands to continue to grow.

    Licia Corbella is a columnist and editorial page editor. lcorbella@calgaryherald.com
     
  18. soxy

    soxy Member

    Indian chief received $55,000 from Tides Foundation


    A left-wing lobby group in San Francisco wired $55,000 to the bank account of an Indian chief in Northern Alberta, paying him to oppose the oilsands.

    And sure enough, that chief – Allan Adam, from the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation – earned his money. Last weekend, he flew to Toronto to sit on a stage next to Neil Young, the folk singer who was in town to demonize Canada’s oil industry.

    Now, $55,000 might sound like a lot of money to pay, just to rent a politician for a day if all the chief did for his money was to appear on stage in Toronto beside Neil Young. But to the Tides Foundation, it’s well worth it. Think of Adam as an actor, hired to play a part in an elaborate theatrical production.

    Neil Young had his role: he’s the American celebrity who can draw crowds of fawning Baby Boomer journalists. But at the end of the day, he’s just another millionaire celebrity. When he talks about the oilsands, he quickly reveals himself as a low-information know-nothing.

    Adam brings what Young can’t: authenticity. Young likes to wear an Indian-style leather vest, but Adam really is an Indian, and he really lives near the oilsands.

    Adam didn’t do a lot of talking in Toronto. He was more of a prop than an actor. See, the Tides Foundation is from San Francisco. And Neil Young lives on a 1,500-acre estate near San Francisco. Without Adam, this would have just been some California millionaires coming up here to boss Canadians around. That’s why they had to hire Adam, to aboriginalize their attack on Canada. It was political sleight of hand, to distract from the fact that this was a foreign assault on Canadian jobs.

    Tides could have hired an actual actor, like maybe Lorne Cardinal, who played the Aboriginal policeman in the comedy series Corner Gas. But they didn’t hire an actor. They hired an elected public official. That’s the problem.

    Adam’s official title is “chief.” But it’s not a religious or cultural title. Under the Indian Act, that’s just the legal title given to the elected mayor of an Indian Band.

    The Tides Foundation put $55,000 into the bank account of a mayor to get him to take a particular political position. Depending on what Tides was getting the Chief to do, the payment might well have been a bribe. But we won't know, because no one is talking about the $55,000 payment.

    How is it acceptable that a foreign lobby group can simply deposit cash into a bank account of a Canadian politician? Who else is being paid cash to oppose the oilsands?

    This fact almost escaped detection. It was buried in the Tides Foundation’s 138-page filing with the IRS, who only disclosed it to get a tax break. Even then, it was shrouded in secrecy.

    The money was paid to a numbered company, 850450 Alberta Ltd. Only a search of Alberta’s corporate registry revealed that 850450 Alberta Ltd. was owned by another company, called Acden Group Ltd., that had changed its name twice in the past four years. Adam and other band politicians were directors and shareholders, in trust for the band.

    The payment was well-hidden – and Adam certainly didn’t disclose it when he was on stage with Young.

    The same IRS disclosure shows Tides made 25 different payments to Canadian anti-oilsands activists in a single year, totaling well over a million dollars. And that’s just one U.S. lobby group. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund out of New York, spends $7 million a year in Canada, with an explicit campaign strategy of fomenting Aboriginal unrest, through protests and lawsuits.

    If a foreign oil company – say, ExxonMobil – was depositing secret payments in the bank accounts of MPs, it would be a scandal. Those MPs would face an RCMP investigation, Exxon would likely be charged with bribery, and the media on both sides of the border would have a field day.

    Yet none of those things will likely happen with Adam.

    Because the Tides Foundation knows that the Canadian media and even the police are cowards when it comes to Aboriginal politicians. They don’t dare hold them to account, for fear of being called racist. If you doubt this, look at the continued success of Theresa Spence, Attawapiskat’s chief.

    Tides got its money’s worth.

    This column was written for Sun News January 19 2013.
     
  19. Foxsea

    Foxsea Active Member

    Setting aside the obvious bias and questionable veracity of the article, $55,000 ??? for lobbying. Such a deal.
    Meanwhile, budgetary estimates show that $16.5 million has been set aside by Natural Resources Canada just for advertising in 2013-14, to promote what the right-wing Harper government calls "responsible" (oilsands?) resource development.
     
  20. GLG

    GLG Well-Known Member

    What's wrong soxy Neil got you down?
    A Tarper™ man don't need him around anyhow.

    Another example of shoot the messenger argument.
    It's a sign of a very weak argument.....

    Others... wonder what makes these tinfoil hat fellas tick?
    This is a good article for you to read.
    [h=1]Bad science: Global-warming deniers are a liability to the conservative cause[/h]July 15, 2010

    Have you heard about the “growing number” of eminent scientists who reject the theory that man-made greenhouse gases are increasing the earth’s temperature? It’s one of those factoids that, for years, has been casually dropped into the opening paragraphs of conservative manifestos against climate-change treaties and legislation. A web site maintained by the office of a U.S. Senator has for years instructed us that a “growing number of scientists” are becoming climate-change “skeptics.” This year, the chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation gave a speech praising the “growing number of distinguished scientists [who are] challenging the conventional wisdom with alternative theories and peer reviewed research.” In this newspaper, a columnist recently described the “growing skepticism about the theory of man-made climate change.” Surely, the conventional wisdom is on the cusp of being overthrown entirely: Another colleague proclaimed that we are approaching “the church of global warming’s Galileo moment.”
    Fine-sounding rhetoric — but all of it nonsense. In a new article published in the Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences, a group of scholars from Stanford University, the University of Toronto and elsewhere provide a statistical breakdown of the opinions of the world’s most prominent climate experts. Their conclusion: The group that is skeptical of the evidence of man-made global warming “comprises only 2% of the top 50 climate researchers as ranked by expertise (number of climate publications), 3% of researchers in the top 100, and 2.5% of the top 200, excluding researchers present in both groups … This result closely agrees with expert surveys, indicating that [about] 97% of self-identified actively publishing climate scientists agree with the tenets of [man-made global warming].”
    How has this tiny 2-3% sliver of fringe opinion been reinvented as a perpetually “growing” share of the scientific community? Most climate-change deniers (or “skeptics,” or whatever term one prefers) tend to inhabit militantly right-wing blogs and other Internet echo chambers populated entirely by other deniers. In these electronic enclaves — where a smattering of citations to legitimate scientific authorities typically is larded up with heaps of add-on commentary from pundits, economists and YouTube jesters who haven’t any formal training in climate sciences — it becomes easy to swallow the fallacy that the whole world, including the respected scientific community, is jumping on the denier bandwagon.
    This is a phenomenon that should worry not only environmentalists, but also conservatives themselves: The conviction that global warming is some sort of giant intellectual fraud now has become a leading bullet point within mainstream North American conservatism; and so has come to bathe the whole movement in its increasingly crankish, conspiratorial glow.
    Conservatives often pride themselves on their hard-headed approach to public-policy — in contradistinction to liberals, who generally are typecast as fuzzy-headed utopians. Yet when it comes to climate change, many conservatives I know will assign credibility to any stray piece of junk science that lands in their inbox … so long as it happens to support their own desired conclusion. (One conservative columnist I know formed her skeptical views on global warming based on testimonials she heard from novelist Michael Crichton.) The result is farcical: Impressionable conservatives who lack the numeracy skills to perform long division or balance their checkbooks feel entitled to spew elaborate proofs purporting to demonstrate how global warming is in fact caused by sunspots or flatulent farm animals. Or they will go on at great length about how “climategate” has exposed the whole global-warming phenomenon as a charade — despite the fact that a subsequent investigation exculpated research investigators from the charge that they had suppressed temperature data. (In fact, “climategate” was overhyped from the beginning, since the scientific community always had other historical temperature data sets at its disposal — that maintained by the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, most notably — entirely independent of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, where the controversy emerged.)
    Let me be clear: Climate-change denialism does not comprise a conspiracy theory, per se: Those aforementioned 2% of eminent scientists prove as much. I personally know several denialists whom I generally consider to be intelligent and thoughtful. But the most militant denialists do share with conspiracists many of the same habits of mind. Oxford University scholar Steve Clarke and Brian Keeley of Washington University have defined conspiracy theories as those worldviews that trace important events to a secretive, nefarious cabal; and whose proponents consistently respond to contrary facts not by modifying their hypothesis, but instead by insisting on the existence of ever-wider circles of high-level conspirators controlling most or all parts of society. This describes, more or less, how radicalized warming deniers treat the subject of their obsession: They see global warming as a Luddite plot hatched by Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and Al Gore to destroy industrial society. And whenever some politician, celebrity or international organization expresses support for the all-but-unanimous view of the world’s scientific community, they inevitably will respond with a variation of “Ah, so they’ve gotten to them, too.”
    In support of this paranoid approach, the denialists typically will rely on stray bits of discordant information — an incorrect reference in a UN report, a suspicious-seeming “climategate” email, some hypocrisy or other from a bien-pensant NGO type — to argue that the whole theory is an intellectual house of cards. In these cases, one can’t help but be reminded of the folks who point out the fluttering American flag in the moon-landing photos, or the “umbrella man” from the Zapruder film of JFK’s assassination.
    In part, blame for all this lies with the Internet, whose blog-from-the-hip ethos has convinced legions of pundits that their view on highly technical matters counts as much as peer-reviewed scientific literature. But there is something deeper at play, too — a basic psychological instinct that public-policy scholars refer to as the “cultural cognition thesis,” described in a recently published academic paper as the observed principle that “individuals tend to form perceptions of risk that reflect and reinforce one or another idealized vision of how society should be organized … Thus, generally speaking, persons who subscribe to individualistic values tend to dismiss claims of environmental risks, because acceptance of such claims implies the need to regulate markets, commerce and other outlets for individual strivings.”

    In simpler words, too many of us treat science as subjective — something we customize to reduce cognitive dissonance between what we think and how we live.
    In the case of global warming, this dissonance is especially traumatic for many conservatives, because they have based their whole worldview on the idea that unfettered capitalism — and the asphalt-paved, gas-guzzling consumer culture it has spawned — is synonymous with both personal fulfillment and human advancement. The global-warming hypothesis challenges that fundamental dogma, perhaps fatally.
    The appropriate intellectual response to that challenge — finding a way to balance human consumption with responsible environmental stewardship — is complicated and difficult. It will require developing new technologies, balancing carbon-abatement programs against other (more cost-effective) life-saving projects such as disease-prevention, and — yes — possibly increasing the economic cost of carbon-fuel usage through some form of direct or indirect taxation. It is one of the most important debates of our time. Yet many conservatives have made themselves irrelevant in it by simply cupping their hands over their ears and screaming out imprecations against Al Gore.
    Rants and slogans may help conservatives deal with the emotional problem of cognitive dissonance. But they aren’t the building blocks of a serious ideological movement. And the impulse toward denialism must be fought if conservatism is to prosper in a century when environmental issues will assume an ever greater profile on this increasingly hot, parched, crowded planet. Otherwise, the movement will come to be defined — and discredited — by its noisiest cranks and conspiracists.

    jkay@nationalpost.com
     
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